Lighting in swine barns is an important consideration when searching for energy savings and pork producers may want to review their lighting strategy. With the expected phase-out of conventional incandescent light bulbs, many will soon face the task of installing newer, more energy-efficient compact fluorescent lighting.

Newer compact fluorescent light bulbs provide important advantages over incandescent bulbs. “The incandescent bulb produces light using electrical resistance and much of its energy is wasted as heat,” according to Jay Harmon, Iowa State University Extension agricultural engineer. “In spite of low initial cost, the short bulb life and their energy inefficiency make these bulbs a costly source of lighting.”

Harmon suggests it may be a good time for producers to consider alternative lighting options before incandescent bulbs are no longer available to purchase. The phase-out of incandescent bulbs officially begins with 100W bulbs in 2012 and will grow to include the lower wattage bulbs during the next few years.

A variety of bulbs and fixtures already are available to replace incandescent bulbs. “Many people have switched to compact fluorescent bulbs because they are much more energy efficient and provide between 50 and 80 lumens per watt,” says Harmon. The fluorescent bulbs utilize the same socket.

While the fluorescent bulbs are more expensive, they represent a better value because they use less energy and their life span is usually two to three times longer than the incandescent bulbs.

Harmon compared energy consumption of a 75 watt incandescent bulb with that of a 20 watt compact fluorescent bulb which produces comparable lumens. Operating 8 hours per day for one year, Harmon showed a savings of  $18.50 per bulb, per year, with the fluorescent option. Projecting the savings onto a 900-head gestation barn utilizing 500 compact fluorescent bulbs, Harmon estimates a savings of $2,400 per year.

According to Harmon, some farms have already made the switch to the new compact fluorescent light bulbs. “If you haven’t already done so, it is easy to make the conversion and now is a great time to consider it.”